While the world around us seems to have been swept away with the holiday spirit, there is a significant portion of us who are dreading this time of year. Not because of the holidays, though. Instead, it’s the thought of shorter days and colder temperatures that come along with this time of year too. The winter blues or the more severe seasonal mood disorder (SAD) affect a large part of the population. Massage can help.
SAD is recognized as a major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns. A less severe form of seasonal mood disorder, known as the winter blues, impacts even more of us. Combined, the two disorders affect as many as one in five Americans and may be aggravated by the change to Daylight Savings Time. Symptoms include reduced energy, difficulty rising in the morning, and a tendency to eat more, especially sweets and starches.
The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. Some factors that may come into play include:
- Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
- Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
- Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
People looking to fend off the winter blues may find relief by integrating massage therapy into their health maintenance routine. These months of less light and warmth leave many Americans feeling depressed and lethargic, yet studies show that regular massages improve mood and reset circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep and more energy. Massage appears to increase your brain and body’s levels of serotonin, according to a review study from the University of Miami School of Medicine*. A separate study from Taiwan found the soothing experience of massage significantly decreased symptoms of the blues**.
Massage therapy can play an important role in health and wellness. If you are interested in trying massage for your health, or if you think helping people by becoming a massage therapist is the career for you, contact the European Massage School, Las Vegas Campus at 702-202-2455.